D’Andre Swift is about a week away from returning from the sprained shoulder he suffered on Thanksgiving, but Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said the team is not considering shutting its leading rusher down for the season.
“We don’t feel that way,” Campbell said Friday. “We still have hope in Swift.”
Swift, who has a career-high 555 yards rushing through 11 games, has dealt with an array of injuries this season.
He missed most of training camp with a strained groin that limited him early in the season, and he initially injured his shoulder in a 33-carry, 130-yard rushing performance Week 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A 2020 second-round pick out of Georgia, Swift has emerged as the Lions’ primary weapon on offense.
He leads the Lions with 984 yards from scrimmage, leads all NFL running backs with 56 receptions and is responsible for three of the Lions’ five longest offensive plays, touchdown catches of 63 and 43 yards and a scoring run of 57 yards.
“It’s not easy to replace a guy like him, as dynamic as he’s been,” Campbell said. “So I think it really becomes, that production is by committee now. Where does Swift’s production go now to get it back? And I would say we’re trying to find ways to spread it throughout this roster of skill players that we do have.”
The Lions (0-10-1) will lean heavily on running back Jamaal Williams in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings (5-6), though Campbell said Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson will see time in the backfield as well.
None of Williams, Igwebuike or Jefferson is as dynamic a receiving threat as Swift, and Campbell said the Lions will have to replace much of Swift’s production in the pass game through their receivers.
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Williams (93 carries, 388 yards) is the Lions’ second-leading rusher this season, while Igwebuike, the Lions’ primary kick returner, has three carries the past three weeks, all for at least an 11-yard gain.
“Godwin just has to keep making plays like he’s doing,” Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. “This young man was a safety on this team last year and we moved him over in training camp and he’s one of the most improved players on the football team in my opinion. I think he’s doing a heck of a job just from moving over from safety to running back.”
Campbell said he does expect kicker Austin Seibert or receiver Quintez Cephus to play again this season. Cephus broke his collarbone in an October loss to the Vikings, while Seibert reportedly underwent sports hernia surgery recently.
“Both of those players we feel very good about in 2022, being healed up, ready to go,” Campbell said.
Cephus had 15 catches for 204 yards in five games before his injury and was emerging as a key cog in the Lions’ passing attack. Seibert made 10 of 12 field goals this season.